Six points behind table-toppers Longford Town, Mervue United are completely aware that tomorrow's Fahy's Field encounter against the midlanders is classed in the crucial category.
Despite producing a battling display in Ballybofey, Mervue's spirited resistance was still defeated by Finn Harps, who climbed above Johnny Glynn's side into second place.
It is a remarkably tight Airtricity League first division as only eight points separate Harps and Cobh Ramblers, who lie in seventh. That confirms just how competitive it is at present with Salthill Devon, who are in St Colman's Park on Friday, the only team yet to register a win. Salthill came so close to causing an EA Sports Cup shock on Monday against St Patrick's Athletic, but a couple of controversial decisions hindered the hosts at Drom.
Even though Salthill took the lead in extra time, the Saints responded as the nifty Jake Kelly levelled before manufacturing the winner for youngster Peter Durrad. Salthill's grit and determination brought them to within a whisker of the next round, but the Dubliners had that little bit of extra guile.
The same could be said about Mervue at the Showgrounds as Sligo Rovers cruised to a comfortable and convincing win. Sligo boss Ian Baraclough took no chances naming a strong side and Mervue, hampered by injuries recently, were unable to deal with the top-flight standard bearers.
Glynn's side face another awkward assignment when Longford visit west as Tony Cousins has stitched an efficient outfit together. Longford, who had their own Monday night EA Sports Cup disaster when torched by Drogheda United, have been highly effective in the league, claiming seven triumphs in 11 matches.
Such enterprising form means Longford have a four-point cushion over Harps with Mervue and Athlone Town a further two behind. Mervue, though, will be encouraged by their decent home record since March as they are unbeaten in five clashes at their own venue. Three successes and two draws have been registered by Mervue, who will be keen to frustrate Longford in the early stages. The statistics prove that Longford have plenty of attacking ability as they have scored 25 times in 11 fixtures, so Mervue must be disciplined defensively during this high stakes clash.
At the opposite end Salthill will be intent on building on Monday's fine performance. While Salthill did exit the competition, they did so in a hearty and honest manner with Cian Fadden, Brian Geraghty, Craig Harding, Derek O'Brien, and Enda Curran all contributing handsomely. Replicating such purpose and passion could earn Salthill some reward down south.